USCIS has not changed the March 20, 2020, deadline for filing registrations for the lottery for cap based H-1B visas.
If a petitioning company did not register for a beneficiary by the deadline, they will not be able to apply for a cap-based H-1B for the period of October 1, 2020-September 30, 2021.
The beneficiary will still be able to apply for cap exempt H-1B visas for positions in universities or related petitioners.
USCIS has responded to COVID-19 by temporarily closing offices to the public beginning March 18, 2020, through at least April 7, 2020. USCIS is working to adopt remote work agreements that will be offered to some immigration officers to move quickly toward implementing virus-mitigation strategies. The USCIS office closures and staff reductions are expected to produce adverse effects on adjudication times and build backlogs that will grow over time.
Adjudication of all visa requests and immigration benefits will take more time and leave the underlying visa status of petitioners in limbo. This includes the ability to depart and reenter the United States as well as employment authorization of both current and prospective noncitizen employees. However, the visa lottery and pre-registration deadlines remain in place.
We recommend that employers and employees consult with OnlineVisas to discuss any such changes and the ensuing impacts on foreign-national employees.